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Developmental Assets

Through extensive research, Search Institute has identified the following 40 building blocks of healthy development that help young people grow up healthy, caring, and responsible.


The asset definitions shown in this chart are based on research on adolescents (6th to 12th grades). In addition, Search Institute has blended the literature on child development with the framework of assets for adolescents to identify parallel, developmentally appropriate sets of assets for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and elementary-age children.


Note: Developmental assets = Elementos fundamentales del desarrollo: To view the 40 developmental assets in Spanish, click here.


Asset Type Asset Name & Definition

External Assets
Support Family support Family life provides high levels of love and support.

Positive family communication Young person and her or his parent(s) communicate positively, and young person is willing to seek advice and counsel from parent(s).

Other adult relationships Young person receives support from three or more nonparent adults.

Caring neighborhood Young person experiences caring neighbors.

Caring school climate School provides a caring, encouraging environment.

Parent involvement in schooling Parent(s) are actively involved in helping young person succeed in school.

Empowerment Community values youth Young person perceives that adults in the community value youth.

Youth as resources Young people are given useful roles in the community.

Service to others Young person serves in the community one hour or more per week.

Safety Young person feels safe at home, at school, and in the neighborhood.

Boundaries and Expectations Family boundaries Family has clear rules and consequences, and monitors the young person's whereabouts.

School boundaries School provides clear rules and consequences.

Neighborhood boundaries Neighbors take responsibility for monitoring young people's behavior.

Adult role models Parent(s) and other adults model positive, responsible behavior.

Positive peer influence Young person's best friends model responsible behavior.

High expectations Both parent(s) and teachers encourage the young person to do well.

Constructive Use 
of Time
Creative activities Young person spends three or more hours per week in lessons or practice in music, theater, or other arts.

Youth programs Young person spends three or more hours per week in sports, clubs, or organizations at school and/or in community organizations.

Religious community Young person spends one hour or more per week in activities in a religious institution.

Time at home Young person is out with friends "with nothing special to do" two or fewer nights per week.

Commitment to Learning Achievement motivation Young person is motivated to do well in school.

School engagement Young person is actively engaged in learning.

Homework Young person reports doing at least one hour of homework every school day.

Bonding to school Young person cares about her or his school.

Reading for pleasure Young person reads for pleasure three or more hours per week.

Positive Values Caring Young person places high value on helping other people.

Equality and social justice Young person places high value on promoting equality and reducing hunger and poverty.

Integrity Young person acts on convictions and stands up for her or his beliefs.

Honesty Young person "tells the truth even when it is not easy."

Responsibility Young person accepts and takes personal responsibility.

Restraint Young person believes it is important not to be sexually active or to use alcohol or other drugs.

Social Competencies Planning and decision making Young person knows how to plan ahead and make choices.

Interpersonal competence Young person has empathy, sensitivity, and friendship skills.

Cultural competence Young person has knowledge of and comfort with people of different cultural/racial/ethnic backgrounds.

Resistance skills Young person can resist negative peer pressure and dangerous situations.

Peaceful conflict resolution Young person seeks to resolve conflict nonviolently.

Positive Identity Personal power Young person feels he or she has control over "things that happen to me."

Self-esteem Young person reports having a high self-esteem.

Sense of purpose Young person reports that "my life has a purpose."

Positive view of personal future Young person is optimistic about her or his personal future.


Developmental assets = Elementos fundamentales del desarrollo: To view the 40 developmental assets in Spanish, click here.

This list is an educational tool. It is not intended to be nor is it appropriate as a scientific measure of the developmental assets of individuals.


Copyright © 2000 by Search Institute. All rights reserved. This chart may be reproduced for educational, noncommercial use only (with this copyright line). No other use is permitted without prior permission from Search Institute, 615 First Avenue N.E., Suite 125, Minneapolis, MN 55413; 800-888-7828. See Search Institute's Permissions Guidelines and Request Form